Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Found Math: How My Kid Shows Me She's Learning

There are times when I doubt my approach to teaching and learning math with my seven year old daughter.  The approach relies heavily on having faith in a learning process that cycles through input-conversation-incubation-inspiration-output and back around again.

Every time I wonder if there's anything sinking in, or think that we're not doing 'enough' of the 'right' kind of math, I invariably run across jewels like these which put my mind and heart at ease...at least until the next fallow period.

A week ago we were both playing around with a nice Christmas gift of a felt board, colorful felt triangles and some awesome design cards.

Yesterday I challenged her with some of these designs and watched her approximating and adjusting angles, creating strategies for reproducing the designs, turning and flipping the triangles, and predicting the growth of the triangle pattern in the upper left corner.

Today I found this on the making table, buried under some other projects.  It looks like she was drawing (mostly) isosceles right triangles, y'all.  Awesome! 

Also of note, the child sat herself down today and, after weeks of conversations about what she might want to do with a pool of money collected from various sources (holidays, allowance, odd jobs, etc.), devised this budget. (Annotated translation below.)

It says this:

I have $50
Spend $25
Save $25

Cocoa [hand-made stuffed kitty] spending $5
[Meaning she's putting aside that money for things it 'needs'.]
Biscuit [lovey kitty] spending $5  ["And then I'll have $15 to spend on myself Mama!"]
Things I need or want too expensive for me: my own ice skates

List of things Biscuit needs: 4 pairs of socks

Me: "Why four pairs?"
Kid:  "Because he has four legs, silly!"
Me:  "But pairs come in two...does Biscuit have eight legs?"
Kid: "Oh, right!  He'll need two pairs of socks!!"
[Me, thinking to myself: iconic multiplication!!]

Things Cocoa needs

We do all kinds of math these days -- reading living math books, games, design activities, drawing, noticing things when we go out, engaging in loooong conversations about the fate of her Christmas money and, yes, some workbook stuff.  Taking the long view, I suppose that what I want most for her is that math becomes both useful and personally meaningful for her.  I think today proves we're headed in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I can definitely relate to all those nagging doubts :) I love the budget she came up with and the math in it. M is also saving money. He's not tried a budget yet since there's only one thing he wants to buy with all the money saved. Today we talked about probabilities and how some things are not at all likely, others are certain and how there are various degrees of certainty/likelihood in between, like a thermometer. So he drew a "likelihood thermometer" for the toy he wants and saves for and let's just say the temp can't go any higher :)


Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!


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